D.C.'s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration Site Opens Wednesday The new system aims to eliminate the mad dash for appointments and tech frustrations that consistently thwarted D.C.'s existing vaccine registration system.
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D.C.'s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration Site Opens Wednesday

A vial of the Moderna vaccine. Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist

D.C. has announced that its new pre-registration system for coronavirus vaccine appointments will launch Wednesday.

The system will prioritize several groups, including those ages 65 and up and residents with certain medical conditions, but it also will be randomized. But officials caution that registering first thing will not get you to the front of the vaccine appointment line, so there is no rush to register.

District residents can pre-register at vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling 1-855-363-0333 and answering a short questionnaire.

Once residents receive an invitation to make an appointment, they will have 48 hours to book it. Bowser said residents who register should monitor their email inbox and spam folder for a notification. If you miss that 48-hour window, you'll return to the queue and have to wait again to be invited to make an appointment. Residents will be invited three times, but if they do not book an appointment after the third invitation, they'll be required to re-register in the pre-registration system.

After the pre-registration system opens on Wednesday, the first invitations will go out via calls, texts or emails by 10 a.m. Friday. The first appointments will start Monday. Going forward, invitations will be sent out by 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says, even with this system, it could take days, weeks or months to get a vaccine appointment.

"We do not have enough vaccine for everyone who wants it," Bowser says. But everyone who registers will eventually get a vaccine.

D.C. is getting 24,760 doses delivered this week. More than 7,000 of those doses will go to hospitals for their patients, about 3,000 for special initiatives, and about 15,000 will go toward appointments on vaccinate.dc.gov.

  • To start off, appointments will be allocated such that:
  • 40% go to those 65 and older
  • 40% go to D.C. residents 18-64 with medical conditions
  • 20% go to eligible workers

Those groups will be subdivided even further: half of each group's allotment will be set aside for priority zip codes where the coronavirus has hit hardest. But officials say they will reevaluate distribution periodically as demand changes for these groups.

The pre-registration system replaces a weekly mad dash for appointments on Thursdays and Fridays that has frustrated residents for weeks with technical glitches and capacity issues, among other problems. More still, unwavering demand for the vaccine has consistently outstripped supply; more than 36,000 people tried to get about 4,000 appointments one day, Bowser said. Those appointments often were filled in under 10 minutes.

While any District resident will be able to pre-register starting Wednesday, Bowser said residents should wait to pre-register until their eligibility phase is announced so as not to overload the system. Registering early will not get anyone ahead in line, she said.

"We're doing the best we can to make the technology match the very high demand," she added. "And what we're also doing is hopefully ensuring that they won't have to encounter (frustration) week after week."

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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